Giving up caffeine was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health. I’ve become addicted to and given up caffeine twice in my life. The last time I gave up caffeine was in May 2010 (right after I passed the last CPA exam). There are two main reasons why I gave up caffeine:
- I don’t like being addicted to anything. I disliked waking up and having to have coffee or else being visited later on by that lovely caffeine withdrawal headache. Plus, I believe addictions of any kind are unhealthy in one way or another.
- Sleep issues. As I mentioned in this post, I’m one of those people that sometimes has trouble falling asleep. I think giving up caffeine helped my sleep routine just slightly. If I had caffeine too late in the day, I could definitely feel it that night.
Let me start by saying that I LOVE coffee. I love the ritual of it. I love the taste of it. And even though I gave it up, I also enjoy that nice coffee buzz (although, when you start to drink it regularly and your “tolerance” increases , it’s harder and harder to get that buzz – just like when you become addicted to anything!).
I still drink decaf coffee almost every day. G is also caffeine-free, so we normally brew a pot of decaf every morning. However, there are usually a couple days a week where I’m in a hurry or I just forget to get coffee, but it’s never a big deal. I don’t get those awful caffeine shakes or headaches if I miss out of my decaf in the morning. Also, sometimes we’ll just forget to buy it at the store and go for a week or so without it. Again, no big deal. We’re not addicted to caffeine anymore, we just enjoy coffee.
There are two main ways to give up caffeine:
- wean yourself
- give up cold turkey
The first time I quit drinking caffeine, I gave up cold turkey.
Here are the results from giving up caffeine cold turkey:
- I beat my addiction in about a week.
- It was quite possibly the worst week of my life.
- I had day-long week-long headaches.
- I was a mega-beyotch.
- I suffered from withdrawals all week and had to go about my daily business like nothing had changed (cue messy breakdowns in the work bathroom, “I want my caffeine back, NOW!! I can’t do this!! I neeeeeed coffee….” Whatever. It happens.).
The second time I gave up caffeine, I wised up. I weaned myself of caffeine.
Here are the (much more pleasant) results from weaning myself off of caffeine:
- It took me about 2 months to give up caffeine.
- I was super happy. (I was still able to nurse my cup of joe every morning.)
- It works! I decreased the amount of regular coffee I drank every week or so.
- I never had one withdrawal headache
Living without caffeine
For the most part, I love living without caffeine. I don’t struggle with it. I never crave caffeine. It wasn’t the caffeine that I loved so much about coffee, it was the taste, the warmth, the ritual of it. I can still have all those things – I just roll with decaf. In fact, as I type this post, I’m drinking a delicious cup of decaf.
What about other products with caffeine? Products like Diet Coke, Coke, headache medicine, chocolate. When I drink Diet Coke (which isn’t all that common), I just go for the caffeine-free option. (Caffeine-free Coke products are super hard to find, so this does pose a problem for ordering mixed drinks and the like.) I rarely get headaches, but when I do, I just pop headache medicine without caffeine. And, as for chocolate, of course I still eat chocolate! But, I don’t eat chocolate daily or enough of it to become addicted to caffeine again, so I’m not too worried about that tiny splurge.
Using caffeine when you need it
Now that I’m not addicted to caffeine, it can actually serve its purpose when I need it. On rare occasions – like when I get very, very little sleep or when I know I have a long day ahead of me – I’ll drink a cup of regular coffee. Just a small cup will be all I need to get that jolt of energy (that I rarely ever got when I was addicted!). For example, I am considering having caffeine the morning of my wedding because I know it’ll be such a long day (and because I’ll need lots of energy to bust out some awesome moves on the dance floor until the wee hours of the morning).
Coffee & Health
Before you tell me that coffee is full of antioxidants and is all natural and good for you, let me stop you now. COFFEE is good for you. Caffeine is not. Yes, coffee beans have tons of great things to offer your body, but, guess what? You can get all of those yummy good antioxidants and nutrients from decaffeinated coffee. All the good stuff, none of the bad stuff. Decaf for the win!
Giving up caffeine was tough, no doubt about it. It’s huge sacrifice, but, in my opinion, it’s worth it for your health in the long-run.
Do you drink coffee/caffeine?